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Open Assembly against Liquidation of Schools and other Budget Cuts

On February 18 residents of Praga and other interested activists gathered to discuss a strategy of mobilization against the liquidation of schools. The government has plans to liquidate around 800 schools all over Poland.

Parents and grandparents expressed concern over the future quality of education and easy access to public education. They worried that they would have to travel with small children further from their homes and wondered what would happen to the existing school property. The general feeling was that private interests would profit from the closing of schools, since it is well known that public property is usually sold off for a fraction of its value. Many examples were given of this. Parents also complained that not enough new schools are being built and that some parents of young children are left without options because they don't have good access to public education, but also cannot afford to pay for private.

The people gathered understand that society is being divided more and more into classes of the haves and have nots and that the policies towards the public schools system will only worsen the situation.

We also heard about the situation of teachers, who are more and more under stress. For example, we heard about how parts of the salary considered bonuses, which were normally given to everybody, are now given competitively on a discretionary basis, without very clear criteria. What is disguised as a motivational tool is nothing more than a salary cut for thousands of public employees. Teachers are wondering about the effects of the liquidation of schools, if classes need to be joined and about whether all current teachers will be offered new employment nearby. In general, there is no guarantee and the teacher is not offered work very far away and be expected to take it, or to lose their job and the right to severance pay.

In general, people expressed the opinion that the public is too slow to respond to such problems, only realizing them after it is too late. We discussed ways of reaching more people, both in Warsaw and around Poland, to create a stronger social force.

Activists from the ZSP and the tenants movement also pointed out that it is very important that people who are negatively affected by the antisocial policies of the government, especially with cuts to the budget sector, need to join each other and support each others' causes. Many people in the audience noted that there is a problem with an individual approach to certain social issues, where people move only to deal with their own concrete problems when things happen to them, but not deal with the broader issues. People expressed the hope that more connection could be made between various social issues, because this would increase the power of each of the movements. It was noted that the demonstration on March 31 is an event where all people who are angry at what is happening should come and have their voice counted.

A plan was made for contacting more people about these issues and people resolved to continue protesting the city council and to support further initiatives of the parents, teachers and pupils of the effected schools.

There were also proposals to publish more information, analyses of the problem and positions.